Detail from The Temptation by William Strang. 1899. Oil on canvas. Tate Gallery.

Detail from The Temptation by William Strang. 1899. Oil on canvas. Tate Gallery.

The account of the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Bible is relatively succinct, particularly in the vocal exchanges between the serpent, Eve, and Adam (bolded below).  What details we know of the Fall come primarily from chapter 3 of Genesis:

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. (Gen. 3:1-7)

Some Armenian Apocrypha manuscripts have been translated into English in recent decades which expand on the Fall narrative substantially, and which are enlightening to compare and contrast with the Genesis account and the account as presented in the temple[1]LDS scholars John Tvedtnes and Matthew Roper have helped bring this literature to light for us[2].  English translations of the Armenian Apocrypha texts can be found by W. Lowndes Lipscomb and Michael Stone[3].  Michael Stone’s book Armenian Apocrypha Relating to Adam and Eve is available for limited reading on Google Books.

I would like to compare what is presented about the Fall in the Armenian Apocrypha with what is known in the Genesis account, particularly the additional details which are absent from the Bible. Any comparisons with the temple account will be left for the reader to make.  The part of the apocrypha that we will look at has been called Adam and Eve and the Incarnation, and as noted by Stone “was composed in Armenian, incorporating ancient traditions originating both within and outside Armenian literature”[4].

One of the first things I notice in paragraph 2 of the Armenian texts is that the serpent is clearly identified with Satan, which is not explicit in Genesis.  One of the manuscripts reads:

The evil one, Satan, . . . having entered into the belly of the serpent, he spoke to Eve with human voice, and he said to Eve, “Why is it that you do not eat of the fruit of that tree?”[5]

In another manuscript, Satan calls the fruit “beautiful.”  In all manuscripts, Satan refers specifically to “that tree” or “this fruit,” whereas in Genesis the question is more general, “hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1).  Eve responds by telling Satan of the commandment as given to them by God.  Satan then replies, in one of the manuscripts:

But the serpent said, “(That is) not so!  Because God himself was a man like you when he ate of it, and he became God of all.  Because of that he said not to eat of that, because you knew that when you eat of it, you will become a god, his equal.  Because of that he said for you not to eat.”[6]

This is substantially different than the Genesis account.  In Genesis, the partaking of the fruit is noted by Satan as causing eyes to be opened, and that they would become “as gods,” by “knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5).  In this apocryphal account Satan goes further to note that God was once a man too, and that He became God by eating of the fruit, and thus became divine.  If Adam and Eve partake of it they will become like Him, or “his equal.”  Stone also notes here that text is explicit “that God was himself originally human and became divine through eating the fruit”[7].  These are interesting details to consider, for even though it is Satan who speaks, there is both truth and error in his words to Eve (see Gen. 3:22).

After hearing this, Eve partakes of the fruit, and is stripped of her light or glory.  At this point the Armenian text embellishes the story significantly from what is contained in the Genesis account.  In Genesis it is only noted that Eve “gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6).  But what was the interchange between Eve and Adam?  Did Adam say anything to Eve on the occasion?  Did Adam protest at all?  What did Eve say?  How did Eve convince Adam to partake?  These details are strangely absent from the Genesis account, and there is no account of any conversation there.

The Armenian texts provide further details, including a conversation between Adam and Eve.  One of the manuscripts says:

When she came to Adam and he saw and said, “Why is it that you have been stripped naked? Did you eat of that fruit?”  Eve said, “O Adam, take (it) and eat!”  Adam said, “I fear (lest) I become stripped naked like you.”[8]

In other words, upon recognizing what Eve has done, Adam immediately interrogates Eve with questions of what she has done, why she is stripped, and if she has eaten of the fruit of the forbidden tree.  Eve only wants Adam to also eat of the fruit.  Adam protests doing it, for he knows that he too will be stripped of his glory.

Eve responds that Adam is beloved of God, and might not be angry with him.  John Tvedtnes notes that Adam says “I cannot taste it and become like you[9].  Eve invites Adam to partake again.  Tvedtnes also notes in one translation that Eve tells Adam that “This fruit is extremely sweet and tasty[10].  Adam holds the fruit in his hand, and ponders eating the fruit for some time (in one account three hours).  One manuscript relates Adam’s thoughts: “If I do not eat, I shall be separated from my wife[11].  In another manuscript Eve also echos similar words:

Do not forget me and do not separate me from you, and do not abandon me in this nakedness of mine.  Take (it) and eat and because of love of you, God will turn and have mercy upon us.[12]

Adam considers the consequences and partakes:

It is preferable to die with the woman than to be separated from her.“  He took and consumed the fruit, and was stripped naked of the light.[13]

And so we see that the Armenian text adds quite a bit of detail to the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve, much of which is not present in the Genesis account.

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The Fall of Adam and Eve in the Armenian Aprocrypha

  1. As suggested by Dr. Tvedtnes in his FAIR presentation below
  2. John A. Tvedtnes, “Early Christian and Jewish Rituals Related to Temple Practices,” 1999 FAIR Conference; John A. Tvedtnes, “The King Follett Discourse in the Light of Ancient and Medieval Jewish and Christian Beliefs,” 2004 FAIR Conference; Matthew Roper, “Adam in Ancient Texts and the Restoration,” 2006 FAIR Conference.
  3. W. Lowndes Lipscomb, The Armenian Apocryphal Adam Literature, University of Pennsylvania, 1990; Michael Stone, Armenian Apocrypha Relating to Adam and Eve, Leiden: Brill, 1996.
  4. Stone, 10.
  5. Stone, 23.
  6. Stone, 25.
  7. ibid.
  8. Stone, 27.
  9. FAIR 1999 presentation.  See note above.
  10. ibid.
  11. Stone, 29.
  12. Stone, 31.
  13. Stone, 33

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